This monumental work stems from the artist’s 2016 solo exhibition Watermense/Water People that investigated the roots and use of natural water resources in Johannesburg’s CBD and surrounding suburbs.
Watermense/Water People is an ongoing project that reveals the untold stories of individuals, communities and the networks that are found along the streams in the city. Samantha personifies this.
During a visit to the Ferndale stream in Johannesburg, Coetzee met Samantha Mamiled who lived nearby and would often gather at the spruit with friends to wash in the stream. The ensuing conversation delved into ideas of reconnecting with nature within urban areas. Sitting at the contaminated water, a link to memories of her rural home and bathing in its streams, Samantha reminded Coetzee of the wasteful and negligent relationship we have with nature in these urban spaces. Therefore, Samantha becomes a reminder of the urgent need for society to reserve and look after their own natural resources.
Samantha is constructed from reclaimed wood and found objects such as cleaned and fumigated re-used parquet flooring and wood from demolished buildings such at the Rissik Street Post Office which burnt down a decade ago. This practice amplifies the notion of re-using rather than discarding. In a sense, Samantha becomes a monumental reminder of the necessity there is to regenerate mankind’s natural resources.
Samantha has become a consequential work in Coetzee’s oeuvre because of the socio-ecological meaning of the piece as well as the monumental nature of the work (size: 3.2 x 1.40 x 1 m). Coetzee conducted more inner-city water-related walkabouts in August and September 2018 along the recently mapped intercontinental watershed and the Jukskei River daylight spot.
Samantha will be permanently housed at the Rosebank Firestation to be viewed by the public and visitors to the building.